South African jazz mu­si­cian Ray Phiri dies at age 70

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E -

Ray Phiri, a South African jazz mu­si­cian who founded the band Stimela and be­came in­ter­na­tion­ally known while per­form­ing on Paul Simon’s Grace­land tour, died of can­cer on Wed­nes­day at age 70. Phiri, a vo­cal­ist and gui­tarist known for his ver­sa­til­ity in jazz fu­sion, indige­nous South African rhythms and other styles, re­ceived many mu­sic awards in his home coun­try. His death was met with na­tion­wide tributes. “He was a mu­si­cal gi­ant. This is in­deed a huge loss for South Africa and the mu­sic in­dus­try as a whole,” Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma said in a state­ment. Po­lit­i­cal par­ties also ex­pressed con­do­lences, say­ing Phiri’s songs res­onated among many South Africans, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the era of white mi­nor­ity rule that ended in 1994. Stimela’s best-known al­bums in­clude “Fire, Pas­sion and Ec­stasy” and “Look, Lis­ten and De­cide,” and Phiri con­trib­uted as a gui­tarist to Simon’s “Grace­land” al­bum in the 1980s. The al­bum evolved from Simon’s in­ter­est in indige­nous South African mu­sic.

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